An Introduction

The Old House Web
Nancy.jpg (9472 bytes)

Nancy Platteborze, still smiling

Replacing sills
Good Times: Replacing rotted sills

Editor's note: Those who frequent The Old House Web's bulletin boards know her as Nancy -- contributor of tips, humor, encouragement, and eloquent, thought-provoking threads about restoring a centuries-old house in New England.

Nancy Platteborze is a doctoral candidate in ethics, writing her dissertation on Emerson, which includes the history of New England. She is also a playwright, and teaches medical ethics at Harvard Divinity School. She has agreed to share her story and pictures of her ongoing restoration efforts with The Old House Web.

This series begins in mid-1999, when the project was first a flutter of hope in Nancy's heart. It then chronicles a roller coaster of emotions from high ("I love this house; it has so much character and history...") to low ("What was I thinking...I wonder how much money I'll lose if I sell now?").

We begin Nancy's story with two of her postings to Old House Web's bulletin boards:

The Highs: November 22, 1999

"After a disastrous start, I am loving restoration at the moment..."

Things are looking up! We've replaced all but one sill -- that's next week. Monstrous work -- bracing the house from the five foot dirt basement is not fun. I dug a four-foot trench around the house looking for the foundation -- found it way under the house.

We poured concrete around the stone out to the edge of the house part way up and are using all the old bricks to go the rest of the way up to the sills.

The 200-year-old springboard is amazing -- I didn't expect to see boards that wide -- and very little rot. I'm glad we took the asbestos siding off because the original clapboards were rotted. I'm almost finished removing those. We'll replace them with cedar clapboards I hope before the snow comes.

The Lows: January 20, 2000

Flapping Tyvek Ghosts

Bad Times: "Haunted" by ghosts of work yet to be done

"I don't want to be a carpenter anymore."

My fingertips are split from working in the cold outside. My lungs are filled with insulation dust (under my mask) from working in the cold inside.

My legs are black and blue from banging into 2 x 6's, my rear end is sore from falling when moving 3 bundles of strapping (what's that skinny stuff made of -- concrete?) and my foot got caught between bundles, my pride got hurt twice just today -- first when the plumber's assistant tiptoed out saying, "it just doesn't feel safe in there," and the UPS guy sneered, "Is this still considered #35?"

I'm cold and tired and scared of the ghost that's probably the Tyvek come loose outside my window flapping in the wind.

I want to go home ... but I am home.

Index to all stories in this series

Next Page: Nancy's Story ->

About the Author
The Old House Web

Search Improvement Project